|World's First "Commercial Scale" Tidal Generator Planned for March|
By James Murray
February 12, 2008
Marine Current Turbines is poised to install its 1.2MW SeaGen system at
Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland and connect it to the grid
UK tidal energy firm Marine Current Turbines (MCT) has announced that it plans
to install the world's first commercial scale, grid-connected tidal energy
generator at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland late next month.
A spokesman for the company confirmed that "weather allowing" the 1.2MW SeaGen
tidal system would be installed after Easter and is expected to generate enough
electricity for 1,000 homes.
"To get the system in the water will be a real boost to the industry as a
whole," said a spokesman for the company. "There have been smaller devices
deployed in the past, but they have been prototypes. This is the first grid
connected device that will be to commercial scale Ė by that we mean the device
going in the water next month is essentially the system we will be using in
planned tidal farms."
The Strangford Lough project had originally been planned for last year, but the
company faced problems with the barge intended to transport the generator into
the Lough. The system has now been modified and a new barge found and barring
any last minute glitches the 14 day installation project is scheduled to begin
on March 23.
The plan was announced as MCT and energy giant npower last week revealed they
have teamed up as part of a project to build a 10.5MW tidal energy farm in an
area off the coast of Anglesey known as the Skerries
The two firms have formed a new company to manage the project called SeaGen
Wales and are predicting that with successful planning approval and financing
the project should commissioned as early as 2011.
MCT's spokesman said that the planned farm would feature seven SeaGen systems
and generate enough electricity for approximately 6,000 homes. He also predicted
that the lessons learnt in the Northern Ireland project combined with improved
economies of scale would result in the project costing £20m to £30m, compared to
the £10m spent to install the Strangford Lough system.
The announcements come as the government faces fresh criticism over its support
for the marine energy sector.
According to a new report from manufacturers trade body EEF and consultancy
Deloitte, the government's £50m Marine renewables Deployment Fund has largely
failed with the £42m earmarked for grants to firms deploying marine technologies
attracting just two applications, both of which were rejected.
Experts claimed the fund was far too small to provide meaningful support to the
marine renewables industry and that the criteria for qualifying were too tight
for many firms to access the cash.
Stephen Radley, chief economist at the EEF, said that the report showed there
was massive potential for UK manufacturing firms to exploit the country's strong
renewable energy resources, but that greater support was needed from the
government in the form of more effective incentives.
"As a country the UK does not spend enough on energy R&D and we donít provide
investors with sufficient security," he said. "The government has to address
both these issues if it wants to meet the demanding EU targets."